Mooresville, N.C. -- Lowe's is celebrating 10 years of its Toolbox for Education grant program with a twist – it's giving educators an assignment that involves their students. Letters to Lowe's is a writing campaign encouraging teachers to share their students' ideas on how to improve their schools. With the help of Kyle Schwartz, who received national attention after tweeting her students' eye-opening responses to the sentence "I wish my teacher knew," Lowe's is inviting educators across the United States to ask their students to write about what their school needs most and submit their responses. Lowe's will select 10 finalist schools and then invite the public to vote for which four schools should receive a $25,000 grant.
"Students have a powerful voice when it comes to education," Kyle Schwartz, who teaches third grade at Doull Elementary School in Denver, Colo., said. "Letters to Lowe's gives teachers an opportunity to empower their students to think critically in a way that helps build a strong learning community and could lead to improving their school."
Over the past decade, Lowe's Toolbox for Education® has provided nearly $45 million in grants that have benefited more than 6 million K-12 public school students through school improvement projects. According to Department of Education statistics, 53 percent of public schools require repairs, renovations and modernization to put their buildings in good overall condition – a need the Toolbox for Education program strives to address. Typically, grant applications are submitted by educators and school administrators only, but Letters to Lowe's seeks inspiration from students on what improvements would make the biggest impact at their school.
Since 2005, Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation has funded Toolbox for Education grants in all 50 states, supporting projects such as technology upgrades, playground refurbishments, community gardens and safety improvements. Toolbox for Education grants are awarded annually in spring and fall. This year the Letters to Lowe's campaign is offered in addition to the regular fall grants cycle and will include the hands-on help of Lowe's Heroes employee volunteers.
"At Lowe's, we believe K-12 public education is the foundation to building bright futures and stronger communities," Joan Higginbotham, Lowe's director of community relations, said. "We are excited about the Letters to Lowe's campaign and are truly proud of the impact we've made throughout the 10-year history of our Toolbox for Education program. We can't wait to see what the next 10 years bring."
Lowe's Toolbox for Education grant recipients from previous years include:
- Metcalfe Elementary School, Gainesville, Florida: The Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation awarded a $20,000 grant to Metcalfe Elementary to build a playground. The school was without a playground for two years.
- Jane Addams Middle School, Bolingbrook, Illinois: A $5,000 grant helped the school make its garden more accessible. Volunteers planted edible vegetation and installed seating areas for staff and students to enjoy the garden.
- Harvey Jones Elementary School, Springdale, Arkansas: A $15,000 grant enabled the school to renovate its gymnasium for the first time in more than 20 years. The grant funded new flooring and mats to cover the walls to make the gym safer for students.
- Highland High School, Monterey, Virginia: Highland High School received a $25,000 grant to install new energy-efficient windows. After 50 years of use, the condition of its previous windows led to increased heating and cooling expenses.
Teachers can submit Letters to Lowe's on behalf of their students through October 2. The public will be invited to vote for the top four schools during the week of Oct. 26. For more information or to submit a letter, visit www.letterstolowes.com.